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7 Steps To Declutter Your Smart Phone And Tablet The KonMari Way

Smart phone apps
After decluttering my entire house according to Kondo Marie’s method, it’s time to apply her philosophy to the digital “stuff” stored in my computer, phone and tablet.  It’s a daunting task, but I figured, if I could clean out my house, I could do anything!  I decided to tackle my smart phone first since it’s something I use everyday and it’s always running out of memory storage.

Decluttering your phone will speed up your phone and help your batteries last longer.

You can check your available storage by going into Settings – General – Usage – Manage Storage on your iPhone or Settings – Storage on your Android.  There you will find a breakdown of all the used memory on your phone.  Bear in mind that the app itself, its data, and its cache all contribute to the total space used by the app.  My Messages app came in second place because it was storing all the message history.  I will show you later how you can set up your phone to minimize this.

Before I embarked on this digital cleanse, I reviewed all the main points in Kondo Marie’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.  Everything in the book can be applied to digital items except for one main difference – unlike a physical household item where you can retrieve it from the donation pile if you change your mind last minute; once you delete a file on your phone, it’s gone permanently (unless you set up an automatic backup that regularly backs up your files to the cloud).  So before you start deleting, BACKUP your valuable files like photos and videos. When you complete the cleanse, you can then save a new backup and delete the old one.

Step 1. Backup and Backup.
Smart phone apps
Backup your photos, videos and other files on your desktop and repeat on your external hard-drive or online cloud. This is particularly important for really valuable files.  You don’t always have to backup twice, but an external hard-drive or an online cloud is a great investment because it allows you to free up space on your desktop so it can operate more efficiently.

Step 2. Group apps into folders (similar to gathering all items under the same category according to the KonMari method).
Smart phone apps
On iPhone, touch and hold any app on until it jiggles, then drag an app onto another app to create a folder. On Android, click here. The reason you group your apps into folders is to help you visualize how many apps you have under one category. Often the apps in the same category have overlapping functions.   Once you have all of them together, it’s much easier to decide which one goes and which one stays.  These are some of the most commonly used folders.

  • Messages (WhatsApp, Messenger, Google Voice, Skype, LINE, Facetime)
  • Photos (Photos, Camera+, Picasa, Flickr and Photo Editor-)
  • Videos (Videos, YouTube, Podcasts, Funimate)
  • Music (Pandora, Spotify, iTunes Store, Shazam)
  • Web Browsers (Safari, Chrome, Mercury)
  • Shopping (Google Express, Amazon, Etsy, Overstock)
  • Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Linkd in, Pinterest, Instagram)
  • Email (Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook)
  • To Do (Notes, Reminders, Trello, Evernotes)
  • Reading (Newstand, ibook)
  • Finance (Stocks, Banks)
  • Interests: Travel (Uber, Kayak, Expedia, Tripadvisor, Airbnb) | Blogs (Imgur, A Beautiful Mess, Tumblr, Food52, Bloglovin’) | Delivery (Munchery, BlueApron)
  • Default (Apps that I don’t use and can’t delete from  my iphone)

Step 3.  Go through each folder and delete apps and files intensely.
Smart phone apps
Begin with the easiest folder with the least sentimental attachment.  First delete the apps you don’t use very often (at least once every week) in the folder.  Remember you can restore your apps if you ever change your mind (you won’t be charged twice for the apps you paid for already).  Next, open up the remaining apps one at a time and start deleting files in each app.  For example, I started with Message folder.  First I deleted my LINE and Google Voice apps because I rarely use them.  Then, I went into Messages app and deleted all conversations except for my most recently ones (this week).  I repeated the same method with my WhatsApp, Skype and Messenger apps.  The more you delete, the easier it gets.

Below is the order of categories I followed.  I added some additional tips to help you get through it more smoothly.  I highly recommend decluttering Music, Photos, Social Media, Email on your desktop because it’s easier to navigate on a larger screen and delete en masse.  These are also the most time consuming folders so schedule time to tackle each one, or like how Marie phrased it, “treat it like an event you are celebrating!”

a. Messages – Delete all conversations except for the most recent (within 2 weeks)
b. Web Browsers – Go into Bookmarks / Reading List / Favorites and purge them all, except for the ones you actually use regularly.  Then go into History and delete all.
c. Reading – Delete the books that you are not reading RIGHT NOW.
d. Finance
e. Interests: Travel / Shopping / Blogs / Food / Games
f. To Do – Delete as many to-do items as you can.  This is going to feel very liberating.  Only keep the ones are really important to you and make some time later to plan out how will accomplish them.
g. Contacts – Don’t be afraid to delete contacts because you can always reach them via email or search them on the internet.
h. Social Media (Desktop) – Unfollow / unfriend people or entities that you longer interact with.  Remember, it’s quality you are after, not quantity.  Life is busy as it is, we don’t need unnecessary distractions and clutter. Here are some additional tips after you decluttered your social media.

  • Twitter – turn off all Web and Email notifications under Settings.
  • Facebook – unsubscribe certain posts by hovering over your friend’s name in the news feed and click Unfollow.
  • Pinterest – alphabetize your Pinterest boards and use keywords in descriptions
  • LinkedIn – disconnect contacts by clicking on Connection – click Check box next to contact – click Remove Contact at the top. Manage your connections by adding Custom Tags (friends / classmates / group members / colleagues / partners ) to help you filter and identify your connections more easily in the future.

i. Videos – videos can take up a lot of storage space.  Backup them up on your desktop and external hard-drive/online cloud and delete them from your phone or tablet regularly.  For podcasts, delete all the feeds and stations that you don’t listen to.
j. Music (Desktop) – Trim down your songs and organize them into playlists.
k. Photos (Desktop) – Keep only the best photo editing app and then go through your photo albums one by one.  Keep only photos that bring you joy when you look them.  Then organize them into folders by date and event title (if there is one).  For example, under folder 2015-09, you will find all the photos taken in September 2015.  If there is a special event in September, group the photos into a sub-folder like 2015-09-04 Smart Phone Declutter Day.
l. Email (Desktop) – If you have reached this far, congratulations!  Decluttering your email is a beast all by itself.  If you are like me with multiple email accounts, this is going to take a couple of weeks to unsubscribe, delete, etc. To whip your your email accounts into shape, you must first delete in bulk.  Sort by sender and start deleting by batch.  If you need to archive important emails, make folders by date and title.  For example 2014-5-01 Taxes. Next, search “unsubscribe” and open each email and click the unsubscribe link at the bottom.  From now on, every time you receive a newsletter, take the time to open it and unsubscribe. This will only take a minute, and soon your email will be clutter-free!  Here is a great article on how to do it.

Step 4. Automate your smart phone and tablet.
Smart phone apps

These are specific tips for iOS that will keep your iPhone and iPad from getting cluttered again.

  • Clean up your calendar: Calendar – Calendars (at the bottom) – Unclick calendars that are redundant or not useful like Birthdays of all your contacts, Holidays, Email accounts.
  • Set messages to auto expire – Settings – Messages – Message History – Keep Messages – select 1 Year or 30 Days.  My setting was on Forever, which explained why my Messages app was using up so much storage space.
  • Turn off Photo Stream and iCloud Photo Sharing unless you want to sync your iPhone and iPad everytime you create a new photo – Settings – Photos & Camera – iCloud Photo Library, My Photo Stream and iCloud Photo Sharing- Off.  This prevents your iPhone and iPad from saving 2 copies of the same photos every time you take/edit a photo.  Here’s more details on how to use iCloud.
  • Prune your notifications: Settings – Notifications – Allow Notification – Off

Step 5. Backup Regularly.  Upload and back up important files to your desktop or a cloud storage program (iCloud / Google+ Photos / Dropbox) on a regular basis.
Smart phone apps

Step 6. Maintain your clutter-free smart phone and tablet.
Smart phone apps
After you have decluttered your device, you can enjoy the fruit of your hard work with just a couple of simple maintenance.

  • Continue to delete files and apps that you no longer use.
  • Unsubscribe irrelevant additional newsletters instead of deleting them.
  • Keep each folder to a maximum of 9 apps, any more, you won’t be able to see them on your folder icon.
  • Set a specific time to check your emails each day rather than checking them every time they pop up in your inbox.  Then reply to your emails right away if they don’t take more than a couple of minutes.
  • Rearrange the locations of your apps until it feels right.

Step 7. Clean the exterior of your device. This final step completes your digital declutter.  Simply make a solution of half vinegar and half water.  Dampen a cloth with the solution and wipe down your phone and phone case.
Smart phone apps

Happy decluttering!  Download these Spark Joy wallpaper for your mobile phone for F R E E !

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